If you’re driving around your neighbourhood and spot a billboard advertising the latest eyewear or sunglasses you often see an A-list celebrity wearing these cool shades and you’ll think that you probably need to get a pair because you think it will make you look cooler.
It’s very rare that we think a pair of sunglasses is necessary to protect our eyes from harmful UV rays and it’s even rarer that we think kids would need it more than we do. But the truth is a pair of sunglasses is more important for our eyesight than our “street cred” and our children deserve it as much as we do.
Protecting your kids from harmful rays
Scientists have long been studying the effects of different kinds of light on a human’s eyes and they discovered that UV rays are much more dangerous to kids than adults because of their eyes are not as efficient as an adult when it comes to filtering high-energy rays.
UV rays are both dangerous to adults and kids because it can cause cataracts when an individual is exposed to high amounts of it for a long period of time. It’s important to note that since children spend more time outdoors playing in parks or at the schoolyard they’re more prone to developing this disease later on if they’re not provided with proper care.
But even if your child stays indoors more than outside there’s still the risk of him/her developing problems with his/her eyesight due to another harmful ray – Blue Light.
Blue Light, or what scientists refer to as high-energy visible light (HEV), is the kind of light that comes from gadgets and artificial light and this ray is just as harmful as UV rays if you’re exposed to it for long periods of time.
Blue Light can come from light bulbs, smart phones and computer screens and according to scientists this ray can lead to macular degeneration if the person is exposed to it consistently without the proper protection.
For those who are unaware, macular degeneration is the deterioration of the pigmented area, which is located at the centre of the retina.
This part of the eye is responsible for helping us fine-tune our vision so we can recognize shapes and other details of the world with more accuracy. Whenever we look at someone’s face and we recognize them due to the shape of their head, eyes, mouth, jaws and ears it’s because our macula is helping us recognize the details of what we see.
It also helps us figure out the shapes in a book or an eye chart so we can distinguish is a letter is an “a” or an “e.” When macular degeneration occurs all we see in front of us are blurred images making it nearly impossible for us to distinguish what exactly we are looking at.
Although, macular degeneration is often caused by hereditary problems and even smoking some scientists are discovering that prolonged exposure to Blue Light can also lead to the progression of this disease.
Kids these days spend an inordinate amount of time staring at their tablets or computers playing their favourite video games or simply browsing the internet and the Blue Light that they’re exposed to is unhealthy enough to cause severe eyesight problems as they grow older.
Fortunately, eyewear today has progressed immensely that there are lenses that can protect children’s eyes from both UV rays and Blue Light. There are even glasses that have sturdy frames, which mean that even if your little toddler is prone to hurling anything within her reach the glasses she wears to protect her eyes from harmful rays won’t break easily.
So the next time you find yourself looking at a billboard about the latest eye wear think about buying your kids their own pairs too so they’ll get to enjoy looking at the wonders of the world without the risk of developing eyesight problems in the future.
As more and more children are accessing gadgets such as tablets, desktops, laptops, smart phones, gaming devices, and more; it can indeed be a wonder if it is good or bad for young kids to be exposed to technology. Well, to help parents out there decide on this matter, we are listing the pros and cons of technology exposure among young children.
It can definitely be advantageous for parents to have kids carry smartphones as it becomes easier to track the whereabouts of their children. You can easily call or text them and in addition, there are options to subscribe to GPS tracking to know the exact location of their children. Other advantages are as follows;
- Because the rule of the game when it comes to technology is engagement, kids easily develop their hand and eyes coordination through tech gadgets. Hand-eye coordination is important when kids begin to attend school as they will learn how to effectively utilize their hands when writing and drawing.
- Improve basic skills such as reading and writing. There are numerous software available which can help parents teach children how to read and write. There are thousands of resources and websites which parents can access to gather ideas when it comes to teaching basic learning skills for children. There are also programs and software which can be downloaded onto the kid’s handheld device for this purpose.
- When parents expose their kids to technologies at a tender age, they are actually helping them to be prepared for school readiness. Parents can use technology to not only teach kids about basic skills such as to read and write but also for more advanced cognitive development strategies. The availability of programs that will teach math, science, history, sports and more are bountiful.
- It also helps increase children’s motivation and desire to achieve something. This is because countless computer activities and applications are designed to encourage kids to finish certain tasks, unlock levels, and win a game. The use of learning video games can actually build a foundation for kids to learn about perseverance and overcome obstacles. This can be applied inside or outside computer games onto real life scenarios.
- Children can learn spatial skills. Visuals is one of the core elements of technology and through it, kids do not have to imagine how tall a building is, or compare the size of a cat with that of a tiger, or how big a palace is compared to a house.
- Technology helps develop problem solving skills. When they play video or computer games, their minds are actually working when it comes to finding solutions in order to beat a boss, complete a mission, and progress towards the next level of a game for example.
Even with the benefits enumerated above, parents can still become worried that their kids may acquire negative habits that will impair their child growth and development due to technology. Such concerns are valid when you consider the disadvantages of exposing kids to tech at a very young age. Here are some of those issues:
- There is a possibility that they will be able to access unsuitable content such as violence, pornography, and other inappropriate contents. The problem becomes bigger when these are shared to fellow children too.
- Development towards being a disconnected youth who can socialize excellently in the online world but suffer social anxieties when confronted with face to face interaction.
- Exposure to health risks as it helps kids to lead a sedentary lifestyle. They spend too much time watching TV, playing video games, and using computers but spend so little time or none at all for physical activities. In addition, children eat a lot, especially unhealthy foods when they are in front of TV’s, computers, or handling other electronic gadgets; thus, they may acquire medical issues like obesity and diabetes.
- In relation to health concerns, staring too much on an electronic device’s screen (i.e. TV, computer, tablet, and smart phone) may lead to poor eyesight. I’ve seen kids suffer from vision problems, wearing prescription eyeglasses as early 10 years old. This is not always because of a congenital issue. It is often caused by too much gadget usage.
Another medical concern is the possibility of developing Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD. A research conducted at a children's hospital in Seattle, as published by the journal Pediatrics in April 2004 showed that excessive exposure to electronic screens at a young age increases the risk of developing attention issues by as much as 28%.
- Their sensibilities are not yet mature; hence, they have poor judgment and may end up performing inappropriate activities or worse, become involved with criminal acts. For example, they can become addicted to online gambling, discover hacking, and download illegal materials or more.
- Digital devices are actually mind distraction and destruction when not controlled. Many experts and even parents agree that technologies are actually making kids disconnected from reality. This affects how they interact with others and how they maintain relationships with family, friends and others. There are also still unknown dangers that lurk behind these electronic devices apart from the recognized ones like hacking, pornography and more.
Technology is a necessity and provides ease and convenience in today’s situation. However, because of the disadvantages that impact child growth and development, parents should master strategies on how kids use technology to their utmost advantage.
As a parent you’re always concerned that your child doesn’t get too attached with his/her gadgets for fear that he/she might not get enough chances to interact with other people in the real world. But there are good things that come from having a huge interest with modern technology.
Just look at Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, their success was all because they loved tinkering with gadgets and learning about technological trends.
So, like it or not, technology has certainly changed how our children interact with the world. Fortunately, not everything about modern technology is bad for our kids and listed below are some of the good, and bad, things about technology affecting our children.
The Positive Side
Let’s start with the good aspects of technology and you might be surprised to see that there are so many great ways that modern technology can help our kids, not just in school but also in their lives.
- Technology speeds up and enriches the learning process. Studies have shown that children who have access to technology are more engrossed in the learning material and can easily absorb information. It is an excellent motivational tool for learning as it makes it easier for children to accomplish assignments as typing is easier than writing.
- Technology helps with communication and socialization. It helps children interact with a diverse group of people through the Internet. Children can easily find other kids who share their interests onlin
- Technology helps kids to be more creative. It provides children the tools to exercise their creativity. There are informational resources available online for arts, crafts, design, music and other hobbies. Technology also assists children when it comes to satisfying their curiosity and learning useful information beyond the usual sources.
- Gaming technology helps children improve their motor skills and other sensory functions. It also aids in cognitive development through reasoning, logic, problem-solving and more.
- Technology also equips children to be more adept in the corporate world because it provides them with the tools they will need in their future work environment.
The Negative Side
Now, we list the side of technology that can be bad for your kids. But you should know that as a parent, you can always guide your kids and help them steer clear from the negative aspects of modern technology.
- It alters the way children think. According to some experts, kids who spend hours playing video games get addicted to this pastime because their brains release dopamine, which is a pleasure chemical, while they progress through the games. Getting a rush from the dopamine motivates children to play even longer with their games, which is a bit like being addicted to a certain substance.
- It affects their health. Exposure to electronic gadgets is sometimes blamed by health professionals for the rise in diabetes and obesity among children. Children who spend hours in front of a laptop or gaming console lack a proper amount of exercise, which can cause severe health risks, such as cardiovascular diseases or muscle atrophy. In addition, several studies point out other health problems when children are overexposed to technology. These include poor eyesight and debilitating back pains.
- Promotes negative psychological health. While it helps children develop social skills and improve interpersonal relationships, it is not comparable to social skills and interpersonal relationships developed through traditional ways. Also, playing violent video games often desensitize children, which could result in them lacking empathy for other people.
- Technology has all caused children’s safety and privacy at risk. By sharing their personal information publicly, they are vulnerable to sex offenders who can easily find victims just by looking at their personal information online. In addition, bullying has been expanded in the virtual world as it is easy to be anonymous over the Internet.
- Exposure to inappropriate content becomes possible despite age restrictions. Children can manipulate personal information in order to access sexual and violent content. Aside from that, spam mails and links which contain unsuitable contents can become a free gateway by which unwanted computer visitors (hackers) can gain entry to your system when children click or view them because of curiosity.
Technology makes life easier and much more interesting. Children can learn many things with technology, but it’s up to you to guide them and help them manage their time interacting with their gadgets.
Technology can teach kids a lot of things but it should never replace learning from the real world. And you can teach them that though an iPhone can show them lots of interesting things online the world outside has even more beautiful things in store for them.
A recent study by the AAO or American Academy of Ophthalmology revealed that almost 1 in 20 toddlers or preschoolers and 1 in 4 school-age kids have eye problems which if left untreated can result in serious complications like permanent loss of vision. The best way to prevent any serious eye problem is early detection and proper treatment. Therefore, it is every parent’s responsibility to protect their child’s eyesight by always checking for any signs of a condition or problem.
It is important to have your children checked as early as 3 years old so their eyes can have a proper assessment. Eye tests are recommended since they can help diagnose serious conditions. Early detection will also prevent severe eye conditions from occurring since ophthalmologist can recommend or prescribe a proper treatment to avoid further complications.
Here are common eye problems which results in improper eye care or the lack thereof:
Studies have shown that about 2% of children suffer from this condition, which is also called as lazy eye. This means that one eye is weaker than the other one and the brain turns off images that are received by the weaker eye. The best treatments for amblyopia include surgery, eyeglasses or placing a patch over the stable eye.
Crossed or misaligned eyes is a condition wherein one eye appears to look straight ahead but the other eye looks to either left, right, down or up. According to AAP or American Academy of Pediatrics, 4% of children may suffer from this condition. Strabismus can be an in-born condition or it can either be developed during childhood. Treatments include surgery or wearing eyeglasses.
The cause of conjunctivitis or pink eye on babies and younger kids is either bacterial or viral infection. Older kids may experience this condition due to allergies. The symptoms include excessive tearing, redness and discharge. It is advisable to contact the pediatrician right away for further tests. Treatments for conjunctivitis include the use of prescribed ointments or eye drops.
This condition can result in blurry vision. There are varying degrees of astigmatism and if the condition is detected early, then the most feasible solution is to wear prescription glasses.
Myopia or nearsightedness is fortunately a rare condition among babies and toddlers. However, it is more common in older kids. With myopia, the child is not able to clearly see objects that are far away. The best treatment for this concern is prescription glasses.
Farsightedness is when the child is having trouble seeing objects up close. If the condition is severe, then eyeglasses can help improve the child’s vision.
A screen may be a child’s distraction when they get bored and fidgety, but to young eyes it can be a disturbance. Research shows that the blue light that LED screens give off can slow or halt the production of melatonin, the hormone that tells the brain that it's time to sleep. This theory has gained so much traction amongst scientific communities that smart phone companies have begun to address this issue in earnest.
In the modern age of technology, children begin to use digital gadgets from the moment their little hands are able to grasp the device. Seventy-two percent of kids age eight and younger have used tablets or smart phones, and over 30% were under the age of two.
Studies have shown that despite the fact that knowing how to use and operate gadgets makes them tech-savvy and skillful, the effects of blue light radiating from the screens of smart phones, tablets, computers, and TV sets affect children’s vision and their general health. However, it does not mean that they have to totally stop using gadgets. Exposure to blue light is highly manageable by changing a few habits and using eye protection.
Why is blue light bad?
Blue light has a wavelength of between approximately 380nm and 500nm; making it one of the shortest, highest-energy wavelengths. It is part of the light spectrum that is visible to the naked eye. It gives basic illumination and, in theory, can also improve feelings of wellbeing. This could be why children are so easily attracted to the glow of their handheld gadgets.
But there are a myriad of effects of blue light on our vision and they could be potentially damaging, depending on the duration of a child’s screen time. The reason for this is that a child’s eyes in its maturing stage have not yet fully developed the protective pigments that filter out some of the unsafe blue light that comes from screens.
One of the dangers of blue light exposure is that it restrains the release of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone that tells us when it is time to sleep. Without melatonin, our brains keep us awake and alert, staying up later than intended. In turn, the lack in slow-wave sleep may bring about behavioral issues and weight gain due to overeating.
Blue light exposure has also been found to cause vision problems. Optometrists have also seen an increase in the number of young people with retinal stress, which could lead to early onset of macular degeneration, also known as chronic eye disease.
Protect ‘em little peepers
One of the easiest ways to protect your child’s eyes from the effects of blue light is to limit their time using their electronic devices. Some doctors recommend to have an hour’s interval between screen time and bed time. Instead, you could encourage the child to read a book.
You also can lower the brightness setting of the screens of devices, which should lessen the amount of blue light coming through.
Lastly, you can decide on using eye protection. Speckaboo Easy Eye offers complete protection from blue light in many cases. These also come in cute styles suitable for kids and toddlers.
Getting in between a child and their devices is never going to be easy, but by developing some of these practices early on, your child can easily adjust. Maybe he or she will be just as happy and entertained reading a book.